Rapine was a bookseller and printer, moving to Washington from his birthplace of Philadelphia to open a bookstore in the new capital.
Mayor of Washington D.C.
He served on the City Council from 1802 to 1806 and then again in 1812, when Congress restructured city ordinances to create a council of aldermen for the city, which will then elect the mayor. Both Rapine and the incumbent (appointed) mayor, Robert Brent, sought the office from the council, who voted to a tie between the two candidates; the matter was settled by a coin toss, which gave the office to Rapine.
At that time, the mayor was an employee of the Federal government, with power to levy only very small taxes on the citizens of Washington City. Rapine raised money in two significant acts: by addressing the Congress and asking for appropriations for the city — especially after the War of 1812 was declared, when he received federal money to fund the city's defenses — and by creating a city lottery, whose proceeds went to the creation of two schools and a public water works.
During the 1820s, Rapine was a member of the prestigious society, Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences, who counted among their members former presidents Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams and many prominent men of the day, including well-known representatives of the military, government service, medical and other professions.
Later in life
Rapine returned to the bookselling business after his term as mayor, although he was also appointed a justice of the peace for Washington County by President James Madison. He served as Postmaster of the House of Representatives in the 1820s, until his death in July 1826.
- DC ALMANAC: Little known or suppressed facts about the colonial city of Washington DC A-M
- Belva Lockwood And The 'Way Of The World'
- Rathbun, Richard. The Columbian institute for the promotion of arts and sciences: A Washington Society of 1816-1838.. Bulletin of the United States National Museum, October 18, 1917. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
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James H. Blake
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